ViewSonic ViewPad 10 tablet: Windows plus Android doesn't add up
ViewSonic's dual-boot, Windows 7 and Android 2.2 Frankentablet showcases the worst of both worldsFollow @MobileGalen
You know the Reese's ad about how chocolate and peanut better go better together? I bet whoever came up with the ViewSonic ViewPad 10 had the same aspiration. The problem is this dual-OS tablet is not a delectable combination. Think creamed spinach and red licorice, not peanut butter and chocolate.
The ViewPad 10 is an awkward shotgun marriage whose two parties clearly don't have their hearts in it. You notice as soon as you turn it on. You get a DOS-like prompt telling you to use the arrow keys to select the OS you want: Windows 7 or Android. However, there are no arrow keys on the device. It's a tablet, so of course there's no keyboard, but you wil find three buttons: Power, Home, and Enter. It turns out you can use Home as a down-arrow key.
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I asked ViewSonic why the boot menu didn't match the actual buttons and was told that the company used a Linux boot loader. In other words, either no one thought to have the hardware and software match or no one cared to do anything about it. This "slap it together mentality" is one reason no tablets come close to the iPad.
The slow, awkward Windows experience
Once you boot into Windows, you get, well, Windows. It's immediately familiar, so there's essentially no learning curve. ViewSonic pre-installs very few applications. There's Adobe Reader 9 and the minimum set of Windows-provisioned applications: Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, XPS Viewer, and the Calculator. You'll need to install anything else you might want to use, such as Outlook or Office. Of course, the ViewPad is a tablet, so there's no DVD drive, but you can plug one in via USB -- if you own one.
However, you may not want to install any applications. Windows 7 and apps such as IE run like molasses on the ViewPad 10 and its 1GHz single-core Atom processor. The delays to my input were excruciating. For example, when I zoomed in or out of IE, it took several seconds for the screen to respond to my gestures. The latency is too great to work around, and I could never predict the results of what I'd done. I can't imagine how the ViewPad would handle a bloated app like Office. Even simple tasks like opening the Start menu showed noticeable lags.
If you can handle the slow performance, beware the poor touch interface. Windows 7 is terrible at handling touch input -- many buttons and links require very precisely positioned taps on screen elements that are usually frustratingly small; I typically had to tap multiple times to activate a control. Windows is inconsistent: Some controls just needed a tap near them, while others -- even in the same dialog box or window -- required a precise tap. It feels like you're playing darts with your finger.